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Graduate School

Story: Managing Motherhood, Military and Social Work

Non-traditional students are older, usually have families and work full-time jobs. Master of Social Work  advanced year student Amirah Cotton is married and has two young children. But her full-time job in human resources is different than most non-traditional students: she and her husband are both active-duty military.

“I joined the military because I always wanted to challenge myself,” Cotton says. “It felt good every time I did something for the Army, and I was accomplishing something greater than myself.”   

A native of Queens, New York, Cotton attended high school in Charlotte, North Carolina. She stayed in-state and attended St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh. Only two weeks after graduating in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management, Cotton was commissioned into the U.S. Army. She is currently a Captain in the Adjutant General Corps.  

“As an undergraduate student prior to becoming active duty, I signed a contract with the military that gave me the option between my sixth and 11th year to pursue a graduate degree through the Advanced Civil Schooling option,” Cotton says. “As part of the program’s requirements, I am required to remain in the Army for six years after graduating. For each day spent as an MSW student, I owe the Army three days of service.”

Cotton intended to earn an MBA while working as a human resources officer in the Army. But her decision to pursue a social work career was influenced by her own experiences. Prior to moving from Ft. Bragg, North Carolina to Columbia in July 2018, Cotton and her husband were geographically separated for three-and-a-half years. The couple are now together in Columbia but her husband, a combat training company commander, works six days a week beginning at 5 a.m. and does not return home until late or whenever the daily mission is complete. Read the full article here.

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